Slow Food London set a challenge: could regular Londoners go slow for an entire year? Would it be easy? Would it be hard? Would there be times when it would (slowly) start to go wrong?
Here, Susan Paul talks us through her twenty-fourth week:
The vegetables from the Farmers Market continue to be fresh and good and cheap. This week I spent £8.50 for a bag brimming with potatoes, onions, thyme, cauliflower, spinach, leeks, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, swede and parsnips.
We are not getting tired of the all the apples and pears for breakfast – they are still delicious and cheap. This week we have had Cox’s apples and conference pears and I also stewed some Bramley apples, which took very little time and effort. We ran out of pears towards the end of the week so I substituted some chopped dried figs.
The quinces from a couple of weeks back were still firm so I decided to try making jam with them. Again this did not take much time or effort (I grated the quinces including the peel) and I was pleased, and surprised with it to be honest – I am not known for my jam making expertise. I will probably use the resulting luxurious deep pink and aromatic mixture as a filling for almond cakes or something more exotic.
I have to apologise for a mistake with the cheese last week. I said we had Rosary Goat’s cheese, which actually we tried in week 18, but in fact we had Innes Brick – also a goat’s cheese, which we ate with red onion jam and thyme in a pastry tart.
This week we have tried the stunning Montgomery’s Cheddar - this is cheese royalty and I think it would be a good addition to our family Christmas dinner. We had some in sandwiches made with good wholemeal bread and butter and some finely sliced red onion - a fabulously fresh and classic sandwich which is just not possible to buy ready-made I think. We also had some in an omelette with potatoes and thyme at the base together with some watercress and finely sliced red onion. I am not sure for how much longer the watercress will be available – at £1.50 a bunch from the greengrocer it seems rather a luxury compared to the prices at the Farmers Market.
I am going to use the rest of the cheese with the few leftover roast walnuts from the party last week, to make some shortbread biscuits to freeze and keep for Christmas.
I have experimented a little more with alternatives to bagged salad leaves, which were part of our diet, regardless of seasonality, before the “Slow Food Challenge” – we tried some finely sliced raw Brussels sprouts this week and were pleasantly surprised to find them delicious although I can’t quite believe I am saying this. They are excellent with a dressing of rapeseed oil and vinegar with a tiny bit of sugar and some mustard but they are also good with no additional ingredients at all. We have also tried raw grated parsnip in place of swede in the salad I have mentioned in the last two weeks and that is absolutely delicious too.
The drinks party for our neighbours last week was good and lots of people expressed an interest in Slow Food. One of the things we had were some roast walnuts with rosemary. They are easy to make so I thought I would give the recipe here:
Preheat the oven to 180c
Put 200g of shelled walnuts on a baking tray with 4 peeled and finely sliced garlic cloves and 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 – 10 minutes - they are ready when the nuts are starting to brown and smell delicious. Remove them from the oven, sprinkle with salt and allow them to cool. They will keep well in an airtight jar for a couple of weeks.